A long-range shot, stellar defense and unwavering free throw shooting powered the Wapakoneta Redskins past the state-ranked Minster Wildcats.
With the game tied at 33 with 3:04 left in the fourth quarter, junior guard Annie Henderson drilled a 3-pointer forcing the Wildcats to foul the rest of the way, but Wapakoneta drained 9-of-12 from the free throw line to capture the 45-39 win.
Free throw shooting proved the difference in the game as the Redskins hit 13-of-19 in the fourth quarter and 15-of-23 for the game, while the Wildcats only went to the charity stripe 13 times, converting six.
Wapakoneta Redskin varsity coach Rusty Allen said he would have liked to see a “few more made free throws down the stretch there to give us a little more breathing room, but I think altogether they stepped up.”
He noted by his squad not coming away empty-handed it kept the pressure on the Wildcats when they went to the line in the closing minutes of the game.
But Allen said the key came down to his defense slowing down the Minster Wildcats inside game. Minster shot 16-of-57, or 28 percent, from the field including 0-of-6 from beyond the arc.
“We obviously wanted to slow down (Tara) Clune, who is a big girl and who has 5 or 6 inches on us, so we wanted to make sure to double down on the post and have two, three defenders inside and force them to kick it out and try to beat us from the outside,” Allen told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “If we were going to get beat, we were going to get beat by them shooting the 3(-pointer).”
The Redskins held Clune to 12 points and the 6-foot-2 center to six rebounds. She struggled to get her points in the paint, hitting on 6-of-15 from the field.
Minster varsity coach Nan Stechschulte boiled the game down to the Wildcats being outplayed by the Redskins and the home team hitting some timely 3-pointers — but it came down to one more aspect of the game.
“I think it really came down to the way they played defense on us,” Stechschulte said. “As soon as our big girl (Clune) caught the ball they bellied up and pushed her out. She has to be stronger than that and play stronger than that.
“Even on rebounds when we were on offense, they were boxing us out and pushing us back at least 3 feet,” she said. “We were displaced — we got displaced when we shot the ball and when we caught the ball and it got in our heads.”
The Redskins held the Wildcats’ scoring to five players. Senior guard Kayla Wuebker hit for 11 points, while senior forward Heather Schmiesing scored 6 points and sophomore guard Kayla Richard and junior forward Bridget Geiger each scored five points.
Three Redskin players provided all the scoring for Wapak in the first half, with junior guard Nicole Brown hitting two 3-pointers en route to 8 points and senior post Courtney Knippen hitting for 7. Henderson scored five points in the second quarter as the team trailed 21-20 at the half.
The Redskins trailed early 6-0 and 10-2 at the 1:48 mark of the first quarter before Brown hit a bomb at the 1:34 mark to make it 10-5 and Knippen closed out the quarter at the free throw line to end the stanza down 10-8.
In the second quarter Knippen tied the game at 12 at the 6-minute mark and again at the 3:38 mark before Brown gave them the lead and Henderson stretched it out to 20-16 with 1:55 left, but the Wildcats closed it out with a 5-0 run to lead 21-20 at half.
After a short-lived lead in the third quarter, the Redskins did not gain the advantage until Henderson hit a bucket at the 4:45 mark in the fourth to take a 33-31, but they did not stay in the lead until her bucket moments later.
Henderson and Knippen led the Redskins in scoring with 12 points, with Brown hitting for 10.
Senior guard Tasha Helmstetter scored all nine of her points in the second half to go along with a game high 11 rebounds, nine on the defensive end. Knippen cleared the glass for eight rebounds.
The Redskins hit on 13-of-40, or 32.5 percent, from the floor.
The Redskins next play Western Buckeye League rival the St. Marys Roughriders Thursday.
at Memorial High School.
The Wapakoneta Redskins junior varsity team lost a heartbreaker to the Minster Wildcats, 29-28, losing the lead when they struggled in the third quarter.
The Redskins led 8-2 at the end of the first quarter and 19-13 at the half. The Redskins scored only 1 point in the third, surrendering the lead they built.
The Wildcats went up 22-20 and both teams traded points in the fourth quarter.
Freshman guard Megan Watt led the Redskins with 8 points and freshman post Lea Stoner hit for 7 points. Sophomore post Erin Schnell contributed with 4 points, while freshman guard Sarah Horman hit for 3 points with sophomore guard Karli Schneider and freshman post Carly Buzzard each scoring two points.